September 05, 2013


While the rest of the world was self-imploding over Kimberly Hall's letter to teenage daughters everywhere, I was too busy in the chaos of keeping my own kids alive to even begin to formulate words to explain my immediate knee-jerk reaction to Ms. Hall's blog post. Other than scratching my head over the photos illustrating the letter, I couldn't even explain myself to Rob (who responded to my incoherent thoughts by pretending to fall asleep).

So instead, the last few days I focused on raising my daughter, hoping to instill a sense of self-worth that was entirely separate from appearance and sexuality, a self-worth that wouldn't bow and bend under another mom's/classmate's/boyfriend's/stranger's scrutiny.

Yes, I do tell her she is beautiful (and cue the smaller self-implosion over what to say to our daughters about their bodies) because I want her to know she's beautiful without doing a single thing to herself. That fancy dress? That big Texas bow? Those high-heeled shoes unearthed from the bowels of my closet, hypothetically dating back to my Big Pimpin' and Up in Here college dancing days? Sure, they're (questionably) "beautiful," but wearing them doesn't make her more beautiful than she already is. Obviously. (Ahem, men everywhere. Please take notes if you're lost at this point.)

However, I focused on teaching her what really was beautiful. Like kindness. Intelligence. Thoughtfulness. Perseverance. Wisdom. Gentleness. Creativity. Discernment. Strength.

So things like this happened:

1st grade science: the perfect intersection of intelligence and patience. For me. Occurring two minutes after a frantic google search of "simple explanation of moon's phases." The amazing thing is she totally gets it. BEAUTY.

And things like this happened:

Quiet free time: a study in creativity, perseverance, and self-control (not to give Silas a beat-down when he intentionally wrinkled the corners). BEAUTY.

And then I prayed that one day she would remember these lessons, be able to wade through the sickening message of "women are valued as sexual objects" AND the shaming message of "women are responsible for men's inabilities to control themselves sexually," and emerge a woman of TRUE beauty.

As for Silas (ohmywordohmyword) I haven't formed a plan of attack yet. I'm taking one week at a time, and this week I taught him the sound of qu, how to toast a slice of bread, and that shaking his buns in someone's (namely his sister's) face doesn't qualify as "dancing" and actually isn't as funny as he thinks it is.

There were, however, some eloquent writers who were actually able to form thoughtful reactions to Ms. Hall's letter, and I'll post them here in case they didn't surface on your Facebook newsfeed (or wherever normal people get their opinion pieces from...the newspaper?...magazines?...truly, I'm stumped).

Happy reading!

*p.s. Beth's site has crashed (due to sheer visitor numbers? overpowering awesomeness?), so if the link isn't working, please bookmark it in your brain to check it out in a few hours.


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